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IndyCar Series: SunTrust Indy Challenge

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  SunTrust Indy Challenge

IndyCar Series: SunTrust Indy Challenge

Vitor Meira
June 24, 2006


THE MODERATOR: We are joined by our second place finisher, Vitor Meira. Great race, man. Great race. I know it's the sixth time you've finished second and I know one day you won't be the bridesmaid anymore, you'll get the win, but take us through your race.
VITOR MEIRA: I mean, doing what we did today, you guys, everybody saw what myself and Panther Racing are capable of. Honestly today we just ran out of time. We had the car, we just ran out of time because we were going to take Sam and we were quicker and I don't know if he was taking it easier or not, probably he was, but we had the car to beat today.
THE MODERATOR: You felt you had another 10, 20 laps you could have gotten, maybe less, what do you think?
VITOR MEIRA: I don't know how faster I was compared to him. But definitely if we had another restart, we were going to be in the hunt pretty good because that is the -- that was the best short oval car I've ever drove with Panther.
So it's just amazing what we did today, falling back twice after pit stops and being able to recover on such a difficult track to overtake.
THE MODERATOR: How big is this for your team?
VITOR MEIRA: It's big. I don't know where the championship is right now, I don't know where Tony finished, but if you're not close to him, we're in front of him by a little bit.
So, fifth, sixth in the championship with no sponsor against the pig guys, Penske, Ganassi, HGR, which are fully funded and everything, which shows how confident Panther Racing is. If we are doing that tight on budget, imagine if we get the full deal.
THE MODERATOR: And your performance tonight can only help that?
VITOR MEIRA: Yeah, we had good performance throughout the year. We struggled a little bit the first two races and a little bit in Indianapolis, but as I learned with the team what the car wanted, we were able to really attack it and really improve what we have, and I think this momentum is just going to get better and better.

Q. When you made that pass, did you go below the yellow line? Were you fourth below the yellow line?
VITOR MEIRA: No, I was not fourth. Actually, I just went with two wheels below the white line. I was in the full car, and I think I just went there to give Dario a little bit of room, also, because he had somebody else on his outside. And he was professional enough to not squeeze me in or anything, so for that, I have to thank him.

Q. From my advantage point, you looked like you got blocked.
VITOR MEIRA: No, I did not. I didn't get blocked. I didn't get blocked. Obviously, with ten laps to go, he didn't make it easy, but it wasn't -- I mean, I would have done the same thing if I was in his place, and he left me enough room as I had the pass done. So he left me enough room.

Q. What's it going to take to get you into the victory circle?
VITOR MEIRA: Man, I think I had this question asked like six times, yeah? (Laughing) That's what it's going to take what we are going. I mean, I think everybody saw that today we ran out of time. It wasn't our fault. We have to improve our pit stops a little bit and obviously the car can always be better but today we just ran out of time, as everybody know. You don't have to be a genius to figure this out.
It's just, again, today, one thing that didn't fall in our place is the pit stops, and the time. We just have to put it all together, as I said many times and before.

Q. Back when you were having all of these close second place finishers with Rahal/Letterman they were dominating the deal, is it much more satisfying with your situation now that you are probably showcasing your driving ability in a smaller team without a sponsor?
VITOR MEIRA: It definitely is, because at Rahal's, I had to share a lot of space with some pretty big names. I mean, Buddy had just run the 500, and Danica was there. With Panther Racing, you'll see the pleasure that everybody takes, as soon as we -- for example, as soon as I passed Franchitti, everybody was screaming on the radio and celebrating.
So everybody shows more the passion and the family, the touch, and it's much more regretting this way, knowing that you are part of something and you're not just there.

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